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  Julie Allen
January 4 - February 3, 2013
 

Julie Allen has long delved into her intimate childhood and family memories for inspiration and source material in her work. In her last exhibition, she created hand-sewn robotic toys made from vinyl and plastic which drew on her recollections of being raised in a southern California community dominated by the aerospace industry. In earlier exhibitions she examined the role of food, both in everyday and celebratory settings: elaborate cakes fashioned entirely from sewn-together balloons, or desserts and salads constructed of hand-sewn silk organza ingredients. Drawings in colored pencil have always played a role in her work as well, ranging from graceful depictions of sushi and sashimi dinners to memory drawings of every object she could recall from her grandmother’s home.
 
For the current exhibition, Allen shifted focus to her clothing and its role in her own life experiences, ranging in time from adolescence to the present. The exhibition primarily is comprised of drawings. These include three near-life-size colored pencil on vellum depictions of clothing items from her teen years. For the artist, these recall the childhood experience of receiving new matching play outfits with a beloved sibling, or seminal shopping excursions with her mother as symbols of the transformation into maturity. They also evoke burgeoning moments of independence: purchasing clothing as a teenager from the Esprit store after careful research through back issues of the magazine Seventeen, checked out from the local library.
 
Also included in the exhibition are over 100 miniature versions of items from Allen’s closet, as small as 2 or 3 inches and none larger than 6 or 7 inches. Allen made detailed rubber-stamps from her own pen and ink drawings of specific types of clothing, to use as templates for these works. After stamping the outline, each drawing was colored in with different patterns or tones, including pinstripes, florals, plaids, polka dots and solids, then cut out and encased in wax paper with tape, “for safe keeping.” Allen commenced this series shortly after her marriage, when her husband moved into her apartment and she offered him the front of her closet. Allen resolved the disorientation she felt at seeing the stripes and solids of a man’s clothing displacing her own items, which were arranged by color, effectively re-creating her original closet with these labor-intensive but lovingly executed works.
 
Allen also made life-size portraits of her underwear for the exhibition, “in response to having my husband to appreciate them.” She began this series with colored pencil on paper or vellum, but moved on to making more vivid full-scale replicas fashioned from Saran Wrap and Magnatag chart tape, replete with lacy embellishments and moveable straps. These pieces continue Allen’s longstanding practice of using commonplace and household materials to meticulously fashion her sewn sculptures, but she notes, “I have traded in the longing of innocence for the deliciousness of love.”
 
 
 
catalogue no. 2.14.11, 2012
Saran Wrap and tape
Variable dimensions

catalogue no. 2.14.11, 2012
Saran Wrap and tape
Variable dimensions
DETAIL

catalogue no. 9.23.10, 2011-12
Saran Wrap and tape
Variable dimensions
 
catalogue no. 9.23.10, 2011-12
Saran Wrap and tape
Variable dimensionsDETAIL

catalogue no. 11.20.08, 2012
Saran Wrap and tape
Variable dimensions

catalogue no. 11.20.08, 2012
Saran Wrap and tape
Variable dimensions
 
catalogue no. 5.23.11, 2012
Saran Wrap and tape
Variable dimensions

catalogue no. 5.23.11, 2012
Saran Wrap and tape
Variable dimensions
DETAIL

Peach Plaid with Turquoise Stirrup Pants, 2011
Colored pencil on vellum
53 7/8 x 35 3/4 inches
 
Grey Dress with Pink Dots, 2011
Colored pencil on vellum
57 3/4 x 35 3/4 inches

Yellow Stripes with Jean Skirt, 2011
Colored pencil on vellum
54 3/4 x 35 3/4 inches

catalogue no. 2.9.07, 2011
Colored pencil on vellum
11 7/8 x 10 inches
 
catalogue no. 2.2.10, 2011
Colored pencil on vellum
14 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

catalogue no. 5.23.11, 2011
Colored pencil on vellum
14 x 9 inches

catalogue no. 9.8.11, 2010
Colored pencil on paper
8 x 9 inches
 
catalogue no. 8.7.09, 2011
Colored pencil on paper
9 x 12 inches

catalogue no. 2.2.10, 2011
Colored pencil on paper
9 x 12 inches

catalogue no. 9.22.10, 2011
Colored pencil on paper
9 x 12 inches
 
catalogue no. 3.8.10, 2011
Colored pencil on paper
9 x 12 inches

catalogue no. 2.3.10, 2011
Colored pencil on paper
9 x 12 inches

catalogue no. 9.23.10, 2010
Colored pencil on paper
9 x 12 inches
 
Leopard Jacket
Colored pencil and ink
on paper, rubber-stamped ink on wax paper with tape
5 1/4 x 4 3/8 inches

Striped PJs
Colored pencil and ink
on paper, rubber-stamped ink on wax paper with tape
6 3/4 x 3 1/8 inches

Floral Blouse
Colored pencil and ink
on paper, rubber-stamped ink on wax paper with tape
5 x 3 1/4 inches
 
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